2023 elections must hold as scheduled, Afenifere insists

Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has called on the Federal Government and all the stakeholders to ensure that there is no change in the dates fixed for this year’s elections and the handing-over date on May 29, 2023.

Afenifere made the call on Monday in a release issued by its spokesperson, Comrade Jare Ajayi, even as it expressed concern about the trauma being experienced by Nigerians in getting energy sources and accessing new Naira notes.

This was just as the pan- Yoruba socio-political group called on the Judiciary not to allow itself to be used to imperil democracy through what it described as “unhelpful and perhaps frivolous litigations such as the one brought by one Chief Ambrose Albert Owuru wanting to stop the forthcoming presidential election.”

“Luckily, the case which was heard by Honourable Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja was dismissed on Monday,” it said.

The pan- Yoruba socio-political group, while making the call, posited that the need to reiterate the sacrosanct of February/March elections became imperative partly due to the alarm note sounded by the spokesman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Dr Hakeem Baba-Hamed, the possibility of using the court to thwart the election process as well as difficulties being inflicted on Nigerians whose consequences may be used as an excuse to jeopardize the ongoing civil rule.

“The contrived pains can be seen in the unabated insecurity, heightened difficulties in getting fuel, in getting new Naira notes and in getting other energy sources such as electricity, gas, kerosene and diesel.

“If the difficulties being experienced in these areas continued and Nigerians begin to react, their (peaceful) expression of frustration may be used as an excuse to want to tinker with the democratic experiment going on. Such would not be acceptable in any way,” Afenifere stated.

It would be recalled that the ACF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, last week Friday, January 27th, disclosed that there were insinuations that the planned elections may not hold, alleging that “some kind of unconstitutional contraption may be forced on Nigerians after May this year.”

Afenifere, while saying it was on the same page with ACF in its warning, however, declared that Nigerians would not accept to live under any arrangement that offends the 1999 Constitution.

“Nigerians will not accept to live under any arrangement that offends the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the group declared.

It argued that even though it had been strident in its call for a constitution that would usher in a Restructured Nigeria, the citizens, for now, had no choice other than to abide by the constitutional provisions, especially on how to change governments democratically in the country, which, according to it, is through the electoral process as well as peaceful handing-over to the winner.

Commenting on the trauma that Nigerians are being made to pass through before the announcement of the extension of the deadline for currency notes’ swap from January 31 to February 10 by Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Afenifere spokesperson, Ajayi, said that it was symptomatic of government’s penchant for making the people go through avoidable pains.

“From the beginning of January this year, Nigerians have been calling on the CBN to extend the deadline. The calls were predicated on the non-availability of new Naira notes and the impossibility of being able to have the ones on hand swapped for the new ones before the expiration of the deadline on January 31.

“The new notes were difficult to obtain either inside the banks, on the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or from the POS,” Ajayi stated.

Afenifere spokesman, while appreciating the eventual shift of the deadline to February 10 by the CBN, asserted that the pains and losses suffered by Nigerians last week would have been avoided “were the extension of the deadline announced much earlier.”

“There, indeed, is a need for the government, particularly the CBN Governor, to apologize to Nigerians over these avoidable pangs and losses that they suffer – and are still suffering,” he said.

He, therefore, urged that banks and outlets where people can obtain the new notes should be stuffed with the currencies immediately so as not to have a repeat of what happened in the last two weeks.

Speaking further, Comrade Ajayi fault the approach being adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari and Emefiele to address the claim that the new currency policy was aimed at those “holding illicit/stolen naira in their homes for speculative purposes,” asserting rather that

the policy was harming the poor instead.

According to him, “If the authorities truly aimed at using the policy to catch those allegedly holding illicit/stolen money in their vaults, there are various legal and institutional frameworks to deal with this.

“For instance, there is the aspect of the law that prescribes that banks must notify security agencies once a person or an organization receives or pays out huge sums of money. Why not use that instrument to deal with the situation rather than making life difficult for hapless Nigerians carrying out financial transactions in tens, hundreds and thousands of naira only?

“It is quite punitive, inhuman, inconsiderate and insensitive. Government and related government agencies need to ensure that such does not repeat itself.”

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